Culwell v. United States, 13606.

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
Citation194 F.2d 808
Docket NumberNo. 13606.,13606.
Decision Date06 March 1952

194 F.2d 808 (1952)


No. 13606.

United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit.

March 6, 1952.

194 F.2d 809

James H. Martin, Joe H. Jones, Dallas, Tex., E. T. Miller, Amarillo, Tex., Howard Dailey, Dallas, Tex., for appellant.

Lester L. May, Asst. U. S. Atty., Frank B. Potter, U. S. Atty., Dallas, Tex., for appellee.

Before BORAH, RUSSELL, and RIVES, Circuit Judges.

BORAH, Circuit Judge.

William A. Culwell was charged in a two count indictment with having suborned the witnesses Ruby Booth and Buck Britt to testify falsely in a criminal trial before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas at Dallas, Texas. Having been tried before a jury and found guilty under each of the two counts against him, Culwell has appealed.

The case arose in this way: In September, 1950, the Grand Jury for the District aforementioned returned an indictment in three counts against Hanley R. Booth and Alfred Wayne Lykes. Count one charged in substance that Alfred Lykes and Hanley Booth had induced Ruby Booth and Mary Davis to go from Texas to New Mexico for the purpose of prostitution. Count two charged Alfred Lykes with having procured transportation to be used by Ruby Booth and Mary Davis in going from Texas to New Mexico for the purpose of prostitution and count three charged Lykes with having transported Mary Davis from New Mexico to Texas for the purpose of having illicit relations with her. Appellant was retained as counsel to represent Hanley Booth and Ruby Booth, the latter having reason to believe that a charge would be filed against her as a result of the trip to New Mexico. Thereafter, appellant engaged the services of Clyde Hood to assist him in the defense of Booth and prior to the trial Hood filed a motion to dismiss count one of the indictment wherein Booth was charged jointly with Lykes. The court sustained this motion and the case against Lykes under counts two and three came on for trial.1

At the trial Ruby Booth and Buck Britt were called to testify as witnesses for the prosecution and, in so far as here material, swore that they had not spent the night together in New Mexico. As a result of this surprise testimony and that of Mary Catherine Davis, which was contrary to the written statements that they had each theretofore given to an agent of the Federal

194 F.2d 810
Bureau of Investigation, a mistrial was declared and the witnesses were immediately arrested and charged with having committed perjury. However, they were not indicted for perjury but the Grand Jury returned a true bill charging William Culwell with the crime of subornation of perjury

When this case came on for trial Buck Britt and Ruby Booth both testified as to the falsity of their previous statements under oath at the Lykes trial and Buck Britt swore that appellant suborned them to testify falsely. On the other hand, and although she wavered somewhat in her testimony, Ruby Booth swore that appellant did not induce or procure her to swear falsely.

Appellant's most serious objection relates to the error of the trial court in receiving in evidence, over timely objection, a mass of highly prejudicial and damaging hearsay. We agree that the point is well taken.

The trial court, over the protest of appellant's counsel, permitted attorney Clayton Heare to testify as to what various people, not subject to cross-examination, had told him. This was obviously hearsay as to appellant who was on trial and its highly prejudicial character is apparent.2

Another instance of the admission of hearsay as evidence against the defendant is found in the testimony of the government's witness Ruby Booth. In the course of her direct examination she admitted spending the night with Buck Britt in New Mexico but denied that the appellant induced her to swear to the contrary at the Lykes trial. Whereupon, the government attorney indicated his displeasure with the gratuitous and improper observation that the witness was lying again. He then produced what was identified as a written statement previously made by the witness to a government agent in Denver, Colorado and over strenuous and repeated objections of appellant's counsel was permitted to read before the jury from the lengthy statement the numerous prejudicial statements therein contained, with a query to

194 F.2d 811
the witness at the end of each sentence as to whether her previous statement was true or untrue.3

It is the established rule that impeachment of one's own witness may be resorted to where his testimony has surprised the party offering him. However, the impeaching matter is to be limited to the point of surprise and even where there is a real surprise it is not proper to permit the impeachment testimony to go beyond the only purpose for which it is admissible, i. e., the removal of the damage the surprise has caused. "In no event may the fact that a witness has made contradictory statements be used as it in effect was here, as a basis for completely discarding the rules of evidence against hearsay and ex parte statements, and, as impeachment, opening the flood gates of prejudicial and damaging hearsay." Young v. United States, 5 Cir., 97 F.2d 200, 206. Moreover, the damage claimed must not have been self-inflicted by continuing, as here, to put in damaging statements after the witness'...

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24 cases
  • United States v. Gregory, 71-2793.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • January 2, 1973
    ...States v. Hicks, 5 Cir. 1970, 420 F.2d 814, 816; Slade v. United States, 5 Cir. 1959, 267 F.2d 834; Culwell v. United States, 5 Cir. 1952, 194 F.2d 808. As the Court said in In no event may the fact that a witness has made contradictory statements 472 F.2d 488 be used . . . as a basis for c......
  • U.S. v. Cravero, 74--3314
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • April 23, 1976
    ...The inducement of the witness to commit perjury may be established by one witness' uncorroborated testimony. Culwell v. United States, 194 F.2d 808 (5th Cir. 1952). Apparently, defendant argues that the government never demonstrated by any testimony other than Lipsky's that Lipsky's origina......
  • Vanston v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., 72-2670.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • July 3, 1973 Vanston's cause which resulted from the reading of Frank's deposition was intentionally self-inflicted. See Culwell v. United States, 194 F.2d 808 (5th Cir. 1952). On these facts the transcript of Frank's telephone conversation was not properly admissible for any The petition for reheari......
  • U.S. v. Palacios, 76-2172
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • August 8, 1977
    ...statement, and, thus, it could "have no legal tendency to establish the truth of (its) subject-matter." Culwell v. United States, 194 F.2d 808, 811 (5th Cir. 8 In discussing appellant's motion for acquittal, at the close of the government's case, the trial court commented: "Well, the proble......
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